A giant has passed. Yesterday, Sir John Keegan died at the age of 78.
My first experience with Keegan’s works was in an introduction to a military history course at university, where at least two of his books appeared on the course list.
I duly purchased my copies and found the way I looked at military conflict significantly altered upon reading the first: The Face of Battle. His description of the battle of Agincourt in particular is something that has always stayed with me. He showed me what it would have been like to have been on the front lines, to feel the fear that the average soldier faced.
Not only was Keegan a prolific writer (a list of some of his works is below), but I have always found him extremely accessible and have had no qualms recommending his books to non-history readers.
I have kept his books with me through the years, and the Keegan section in my library has grown with time.
I still recall a line spoken by my military history professor, saying that "one could not swing a cat in a military history section of a library without hitting a Keegan". Let us hope that this continues to bear true following his passing and, indeed, well into the future.
The following is a selection of Keegan’s work: